This morning as I pack up my laptop I am reminded of the Super Efficient Gemma, (PA to the Chief Executive no less), who used to tap away quietly on her computer during meetings I attended, producing excellent Minutes
within, well, minutes of the meeting closing.
Today I am playing at being Gemma as I take my place at one end of the table in the Bowls Clubhouse and prepare
for my first task in my new role of Assistant Secretary, namely the taking of the Minutes at the May meeting. I plug my laptop into a handy socket, crossing my fingers that the President won’t trip over the trailing wire. I have
threaded it through chair and table legs in a bid to make it safe. It would not be a good start to my new role, would it, if the President were to be injured and unable to participate in the rest of the Bowls Season, just because I wanted to be like Gemma?
I expect you are thinking that I was trying to impress the Bowls Club Committee, eminent as they undoubtedly are, with my laptop and my obvious(!) grasp of new
technology and to be truthful perhaps there was a teeny, tiny bit of me that was. However my main reasons for turning to the computer and not simply scribbling away in an over-sized note-book (apart from wanting to emulate Gemma) were that (i) my
wrists were giving me what my mother used to call “gyp” and (ii) my handwriting, never good at the best of times, is currently almost unreadable, given the extent of “gyp-ness” I am suffering.
The first item on the agenda is to co-opt me onto the Committee. The vote is unanimous which would make me very, very proud if I didn’t know that nobody else wanted to take on this particular role. Nevertheless
I thank them for their vote of confidence in me and say I will do my best to record the meetings faithfully and accurately. The Captain says not to worry too much because nobody can ever remember what they said at the meeting, after the meeting. This is a
reassuring and exceedingly comforting thought.
Two of the Committee Members are particularly helpful and give me printed notes of what they are going to report,
obviously concerned that at least their sections should be accurately minuted. I bow my head in gratitude. From a corner of my eye, I see that Somebody has trotted off into the kitchen to boil the kettle and I am thankful, indeed, when
a cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits appears at my elbow. I take two biscuits (a jammy dodger and a ginger nut) which might seem a bit greedy but I always find I work better with a biscuit. It would make a pretty good advertising slogan, don’t
you think: “Better With a Biscuit”? I shall sell it to the highest bidder - or the one who manufactures the tastiest biscuits.
Not being a bowler
myself, quite a lot of the discussion round the table goes well over my head. I insert lots of question marks in my Word document and plan to ask Mr B for clarification when I get home. Funnily enough I feel on safer ground when they start talking about safeguarding
policies and risk assessments which would probably drive most people round the bend but which makes me feel as if I am back at work.
The meeting is over
in just over an hour and a half which I think is pretty good going. Gemma would be over the moon if all the meetings she has to attend, and take minutes at, lasted only that long. I take my laptop home and spend the afternoon correcting my
erratic typing which is almost as difficult to decipher as my appalling handwriting would have been. I decide to draw up a list of Action Agreed which would be something new and would show that I am an Assistant Secretary Who Has The Occasional Good Idea.
Obviously if they don't like my idea then I will be labelled as the Annoying Assistant Secretary Who Doesn't Know Her Place. Such is life, as someone once said, though I can't remember who or where or when. Presumably there was no Assistant Secretary
around to minute it.
Incidentally do you know why Minutes are called Minutes? I didn’t, so in the interests of learning, and because I do like the
Daily Blog to be a bit educational every so often, I looked it up. In Latin, "minute" means small or tiny. In the 16th century, when a record was kept of official meetings, it was first written in shorthand, which was a very small or "minute" script. The text
would later be transcribed into regular size. Thus the record was called the "minutes" of the meeting, originally (to my delight!) pronounced "my-noots."
probably knew that....